Time Management Expert, Event Speaker: Mark Lamendola

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Time Tips: Lessons from Congress

Most of us budget our money, but not our time. But simply budgeting your time is not enough. After all, the U.S. Congress has a budget--and look at how they've managed to spend the USA into a $9 trillion hole. (This article first appeared in April of 2006).

This shows how incompetent they are, despite "earning" 5 times as much as their average constituent. It also shows that Congress does not represent the people who allegedly put them in office at voting time (if you vote for an incumbent, you are probably making a huge mistake).

Those of us living in the USA are paying an enormous tuition for lessons in stupidity. Let's not throw that away.

We can apply a few lessons here to time management. If we take some pages from Congress' own playbook, invert the entries from "what not to do," and modify them for time management, we get some very good advice:

  • Figure out what it is you really want to do. You can't do everything or please everyone. So, identify what is your purpose in being. Make everything else support that.
  • Determine your resources. Each day has 24 hours (my apologies to astronomers for the lack of precision, there). The typical person needs about a third of them for sleeping (some people need a little less, some a little more--and most of us don't get nearly enough). You cannot get water from a dry well. Once you use up your time, it's gone.
  • Ignore the shrill voices. There is no law requiring you to answer the phone just because it rings. There is no law requiring you to stop what you're doing just because someone or something distracts you. You do not have to please those who insist on monopolizing or wasting your time.
  • Stick to your principles. Stay true to who you are and the principles you hold. This doesn't mean you can't change your views, opinions, tastes, habits, and so on. But it does mean you should not attempt to change the stripes of the tiger. Surely, you've come to realize your momma didn't raise no fool. You know right from wrong. Let this guide you.
  • Don't spend what you don't have. This is a key to time management. Many times, people will spend sleep time, putting them into a counter-productive sleep debt situation. And this debt can actually have a foreclosure--we know this from reams of evidence. For example, there's a spike of traffic deaths and industrial accidents for three weeks following the clock change imposed on us by Daylight Wasting Time. That same foreclosure can happen at any point in the year.
  • Don't spend what you don't have (part 2). It's easy to over-commit. The standard response to this is to still try to do everything--and, consequently, do many things poorly. It is far more ethical and productive to back out of a commitment. Simply come clean and say, "I need to resign from this committee. I want to do that, rather than hold the office and do a lousy job. I'm just over-extended."
  • Don't spend what you don't have (part 3). When our schedules are too full, it's tempting to shove our responsibilities off on other people. In marriages, this is the norm. Note to men: Wake up! Your wife is not your default task absorber. She has a life, too--respect that. Don't delude yourself into thinking that barely pitching in around the house means you are "sharing" the load.

    Advice for married couples: Make a list of all tasks needed to maintain the home, rear the kids*, and so on. Note the hours required to perform each task. Then, hire an accountant to review the list and provide feedback on who is doing their fair share. Why an accountant? Very simple: This is a matter of resource allocation. And that subject is right up an accountant's alley. If you perform an objective, measured analysis of who is doing what, you will find some eye-popping revelations. It's a bad idea to do this just once--that leads to entrenched expectations and lack of cooperation. Instead, do it twice a year with the goal of seeing if you personally are doing your fair share rather than seeing if your partner needs to do more. You may think this exercise is too cold-hearted, but I don't think it's exactly loving to behave in a way that is unfair to the other person. Get the facts out on the table!

* We rear children, we raise animals--so many people are correct when saying they "raise" their kids. But I will assume our readers actually rear their children to be civilized, responsible adults. 


Do you want to radically improve how well people in your organization make use of the limited number of hours in each work day?

Contact me to arrange a time when we can talk about a presentation: mark@mindconnection.com. Why arrange a time? So I can give you full attention during the call. There's a really powerful time management tip. Ask me why it works.